ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The entire field of candidates in St. Paul’s mayoral race denounced Thursday the actions of the city’s police union, which some called “racist” and a “smear.”

All five St. Paul candidates for mayor squared off in a Minnesota Public Radio debate just days before the election.

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The St. Paul Police Federation has apologized for this controversial campaign mailing and its statements questioning circumstances of a burglary at the home of candidate Melvin Carter.

At the MPR debate, Carter said the incident reflects a need to reform city policing.

“This isn’t about a feud between me and the police federation,” he said. “This comes in the shadow of me saying we need to change the underlying social contract between the police department and people all over our city.”

Pat Harris won the police union endorsement. He denounced the mailing and called for the resignation of the federation’s board.

“It’s unfortunate, and it’s wrong,” he said. “I categorically and utterly reject it.”

Candidates in the two-hour forum touched on many St. Paul issues.

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Tom Goldstein said city leaders favor wealthy business owners.

“If you own a baseball team or you are a music promoter or you want to build a soccer stadium or a new practice facility for your hockey team, you’re doing better because there are millions of dollars in subsidies available to you,” he said.

City Council Member Dai Thao came to America as a child refugee and said he’s fighting against the discrimination his family found.

“I thought that America would be paradise, but when I arrived here we were discriminated against,” he said. “The poor and the working class were pitted against each other. It’s not that there is anything wrong with poor or middle class people, it’s that something is wrong with the system. And that system hasn’t changed.”

Elizabeth Dickenson promised to be visible and accessible.

“I think the city would see me in the neighborhoods,” she said. “They would see me in the community. They would feel they could come up to me in the grocery stores and at school and say this is what is on my heart and mind.”

St. Paul has an open seat for Mayor.

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Three-term Mayor Chris Coleman is not seeking re-election, and is running for governor.